Tag Archives: Approval

With advent of the media’s blossoming controversy about fake news and the rendering of misinformation by them and private sources we have felt a growing frustration in attempting to find out what’s really happening in the world and obtaining a fair and honest rendering through journalism and news reporting. With the added intensity over the differences in our political landscape and those utilizing it for manipulation, our belief and trust in what we are now being told has diminished significantly. Do we believe what we hear? Who do we trust? Do they have a vested interest in what they’re telling us? Who owns the media? Are they politically biased? Prejudiced? Are they giving us the facts? “Alternate” facts? Misinformation? Who should we put our trust in? The answer has finally and essentially come to the fact that, more than ever, we must now trust ourselves.

This may seem simplistic but it’s been a long time coming. With our social structure being flooded with so many authorities, experts, pundits, licensed providers, vetted officials, approved representatives, isn’t it only natural and inevitable that we must eventually reach a saturation point in our dependency on other people for advice and permission to do only what’s generally accepted by our peer group? Doesn’t it seem like there are so many conflicting edicts presented by so many groups we’ve come to trust, yet, they almost all tell us that we must be or do something other than what we feel? Today salt is good for you. Tomorrow it’s not. Today, one politician is a criminal. The next, they’re a hero. The majority of doctors say this drug is a miracle. The next day we hear of class action lawsuits levied by lawyers on behalf of people who have been irreparably damaged by them. Who do we believe? Who can we trust? The writing on the wall begs for us to begin relearning to trust ourselves. Relearn you say? How can this be? Aren’t we a self-sustaining and self-responsible culture? Haven’t we been trained to listen to and trust our own intuition and feelings? The answer is no. We’ve been trained by our parents and the media to seek outside of ourselves for the answers to all of our important questions.

Through being browbeaten into believing that all the important answers about how and why we are to live our lives comes from an outside authority, through omission it’s been strongly inferred to us that our feelings and intuition can’t and won’t be validated, proven, vetted or authenticated by others. We’ve been trained to put all of our faith into the scientific community and the proofs that it requires. There is a perpetual drive for evidence, evidence and evidence. We must only accept proof, validation and verification by others giving us permission to act even if it doesn’t feel right. Why have we allowed ourselves to believe this? It’s safer. We can be accused of less if we can validate who we are or what we are doing by following the rules and requirements of the social status quo. The underlying expectation is, and to most of us this is unconscious, that in doing so we won’t have to be responsible for the outcome of our choices. If we do something that someone disapproves of, all we have to do is point the finger at the accepted authority and we become vindicated and faultless. We’ve done what we’re told was proper. We’re blameless. We followed "the rules." We can now expect to be loved.

If we view the universe as a self-correcting system, we must understand that all things change and evolve. The snowballing of fake news and misinformation is simply occurring as a self-correction that the universe has been slowly and naturally energizing  as a re-balancing much like a market correction. Not that it is in any way intended, although there are many of us that believe in intelligent design, but that, according to its own nature, energy “seeks” toward simplicity and conservation of itself. Our focus outside of ourselves has reached such an extreme that the pendulum must now swing toward the side of personal and internal judgment simply in order to re-balance itself. The "rub" is that it must also return us toward being accountable for our actions and inactions. We will no longer be able to remain blameless and will now risk the possibility of not being loved or included in our chosen groups, clans or families.

Moving from being externally aligned toward being internally self-directed will seem foreign to many of us and even frightening to some. We have been so indoctrinated into listening to what comes from outside of ourselves that trusting our own feelings and intuition has come to seem unnatural and even treasonous toward the society and culture that has trained us toward, essentially, remaining subservient and obedient to itself. We’ve been relentlessly bombarded with the belief that we are responsible for the welfare of others over our own…even if subconsciously. This outlook heralds all the way back to colonial times when we actually needed the help of others simply to survive. Then, this easily fell in line with Christian principles claiming that we are our “brother’s keeper.” But circumstances change over time and so do the prevailing traditions that evolve from them. So now, when it comes to our contemporary emotional and psychological health, nothing could have evolved further from the truth. Although we claim to be self-sufficient, we do need others to see ourselves “objectively.” We have gravitated so much toward a selfless and personally sacrificial extreme that we are now all in perilous danger of losing ourselves totally simply to obtain the approval and acceptance of our peers through acquiescing to their parroted and, now, obsolete traditional judgments. Yet, this makes us feel safe and blameless. The ironic part of this is that everyone is looking toward each other as an authority which amounts to only each others opinions gathered from everyone else… No longer does anyone actually have or know the necessary truths. Through accepting this mindless echo as our standard for well being, we have simply become the blind leading the blind.

The breakdown in the media is simply one more superficial indicator of how over-invested we have become in the opinions and judgments of others. The recent assertion by our new president promoting “America First” exemplifies a tacit undercurrent moving us toward returning to a sense of balance nationally. We are in dire need of bringing our feelings and intuition back into play as being a valid form of information used for our choices and direction. Our blind acceptance of the need to validate everything scientifically has obliterated the awareness and validation of our own worth except in the context of social service and responsibility. We need to begin to allow ourselves to be selfish at least to the extent that we are able to regenerate ourselves before being subjugated to the socially expected demand of service to others. “Doctor, heal thyself!” We must regain a balance between being responsible to ourselves before we can become effective in being of service to others. A drained social worker is of little use to anyone.

So, now, the recent explosion and exposure of fake news and misinformation is, essentially, providing us with an unexpected side effect and open door encouraging us to reacquaint ourselves with our own feelings and intuition while showing us the necessity of giving ourselves permission to trust our own judgment in spite of the historic and overwhelming pressure levied on us by external authority. Isn’t it funny how life always brings us back to trusting our own heart and intuition? Yet, building the courage required to live according to them is, more often than not, ignored or even buried under the fearful possibility of being socially outcast for non-compliance.

Prescription-1...if you’re healthy enough to have sex. Really? Have we slipped so far into not listening to our own body that we have to ask an outside authority for permission to indulge in pleasure? What does it mean that we now feel so compelled to rely on others for personal validation?

Our western culture has become obsessed with experts, specialists, licensed professionals and “board approved” authorities. We pay others dearly for bodily assessments, psychotherapy, emotional coaching, career planning, financial and legal advice, dietary recommendations, performance enhancements, chemically extended sexual prowess, tuition for private instruction in career advancement and a whole host of other capacities that we and previous generations used to perform ourselves. Is it just the time that we feel is needed to “educate” ourselves sufficiently enough to be “qualified” to perform tasks for ourselves? Or is there something else that lies beneath the threshold of our Board Certified-1awareness creating fear and apprehension about anything we might choose to do for ourselves that’s not part of a skill or career offered by others and not sanctioned or legalized by some authority or board approval?

One of the factors underlying this obsession is our fear of “making mistakes.” That is, we doubt ourselves so fully that we are not as much vexed by not being able to perform a particular task or function but that we will feel embarrassed when we have to “call someone in” to assess our actions and make “corrections” so we can feel like we’re “back to normal.” But our fear of “making mistakes” goes much deeper than our perceived helplessness and the shame involved in its observation by others. The perceived self-doubt and the feeling of having to consult 404-errorothers comes from an absence of childhood training in assessing ourselves, our situations and our “qualifications” and coming up short in self-assertion and self validation.

Trusting ourselves and our own judgment is a very elusive quality to be able to pinpoint as to the origins of its enabling. For very few of us this confidence may have been innate but for the majority of us it came from building and accumulating experiences in which we performed tasks and received validation from our parents and caretakers for being proficient if not, at the least, competent. The validation comes from our parents and guardians in the form of their allowing and encouraging our personal choices even if they are not in line with what our confidence-2guardians believe are “the right” choices by conforming to their life experiences. Generally, if a parent has confidence in their own value and proficiency, it will be relatively easy for them to acknowledge and encourage their children’s choices without having to impose and have accepted their own values in order to validate their own self worth.

As second factor, and probably the one which has created the most personal damage to our self-image in our process of gaining and maintaining a feeling of competence and personal validation is the media. There is no doubt that there exists a bank of psychologists and sociologists studying the methods in which the retail and service markets could have the most influential effect on us, the general public, to encourage the purchase of their products and services. It is difficult enough navigating our lives in a confident manner after almost or never having received the encouragement that would have enabled our Self-Trust but the media has Mirror mirror on the wall-44taken this handicap one step further. To intensify the effect of this childhood deficiency they have projected an emphasis on us through their assertion that we are not good enough as we are. We need whiter teeth. We need a better education. We need a flashier car, a bigger house, more money, more free time and, most of all, their products and services that will gain the envy and approval of our friends and enemies alike.After receiving little, if not contrary support and discouragement toward building our own self-sufficiency and a self-sustaining life style and compounded by our parents’ inability to allow us to make our own decisions without appeasing their need for our actions to validate and accommodate their approach to life, we’re now hit with advertisements that only bring our learned perceived shame and incompetence directly to the surface of our awareness and potentially for all to see. Now, we’re petrified of exposure. We do all we can to hide our “imperfections.” In the face of the media and its diminished projected standards for us, we begin to believe that we are less than and that others, our parents, caretakers and the media, know better than we about our own lives and personal experiences. After all, if the outside world says it’s true, and they’re only an extension of our parental authority, then it must be true. So why do we believe that we must have others perform the tasks that we used to perform for ourselves? Because we’ve been taught to believe that we are incompetent and need the assistance of others to bring us to a state of being acceptable.

In deference to some of us who are not fully “in the bag” by believing that we are “imperfect” or even incompetent, and there are a few of us who have retrained ourselves and reprogrammed enough of a competent and self-sufficient self-image through long and hard work on ourselves, a third factor encourages us to seek outside assistance. In our very busy and filled up world there are tasks that we neither have the time to fix nor the opportunity to learn how to better manage. Even then we feel we have to “call in the experts.”

Obey-TV-BRAINWASHING-1So, is it any wonder that most of us have been brainwashed so badly that we have to ask our family doctor if we’re even allowed to seek pleasure for ourselves let alone if we are able or “competent” to do so?Our ability to listen to our own body and our faith in our own judgment has been so thoroughly stamped out under the threat of disapproval, excommunication and the withholding of any support or affection that we now believe that our fate and prosperity rests solely on the approval of those to whom we’ve assigned authority over us and our personal accountability to on the chance that we might make a mistake and expose our imperfections. What’s so ironic is that we all make what we perceive as mistakes. We’re human. It’s inevitable. Then, how is it that we have accepted training that says it is possible not to make mistakes? And what is a mistake anyway but the unmet expectation of those to whom we have assigned authority over us?

There is no one at fault for programming us in this way. Generally, our parents and caretakers did the best they could with what they understood about their own validity as adults. They have also become a victim of poisoned media thinking that perfection is possible, so, now, they naturally expect it of us; their children. And if we’re not perfect like Ozzie and Harriet, Father Ozzie & HarrietKnows Best and the TV portrayals of all the other nightly family situational serials from the 50s and 60s (we now call them sitcoms but they we’re deemed funny then) then there must be something inadequate with our parents’ child-rearing abilities; aka, they must feel left to assume that they are incompetent parents. Now, let me ask you. If you feel discouraged about your own competence and validity as a parent, are you going to be able to encourage your children to be independent and competent, especially, if you no longer know how that feels? Of course not. You’re going to instill the same fear of imperfection and making “mistakes” in them. And so it goes on and on. And now we hear an echo from the bible, and probably many other scriptures, saying, “The sins of the father (and mother) become the sins of their sons (and daughters).”

There are many ways to regain our personal power and Self-Trust. There’s not enough space to go into them all in a small article let alone the time. But in our first steps toward redeeming them it’s extremely important to recognize and understand why and how we have given away our power and Self-Trust in order that we may remain in a feeling that we belong, to feel that we are acceptable, even with all our abhorrent imperfections and that if we follow all the rules and Courage-Cat-Liondo what we’re told, we won’t be called out, exposed, withheld from, excommunicated or deserted. What a terrible price to pay for the illusion of being loved and the elusive security of belonging. The courage we can show in trusting ourselves and risking the exposure and possible disapproval of our personal expression and individuality while allowing others to have the choice to reject them are some of our most important components of loving ourselves and the world…as it is.

Gratitude-1Gratitude and grateful are words that have been used, misinterpreted and abused by many people, disciplines and philosophies. In speaking of them with others we can never be sure how another will perceive them or apply them to action. In this light I think the best place to begin in order to establish a conventional point of reference for a continuity of our understanding should be with definitions as defined by the academicians. Etymonline.com, who defines the origins and original meanings of words, gives the most basic and original meanings, the cultures they emerged from and the meanings as used by those cultures.

Both words derive from the word grace which was first recorded in 13th century Old French as the word graciier meaning to favor. Favor, also from the 13th century French adds the meanings of to laud, to commend, to flatter or to be partial to, feel mercy for and praise which comes from the Late Latin preciare.

Lastly, grateful also derives from the word grace but its meaning shifted in the 1550s taking on flavor of being disposed to repay favors bestowed. This is where the word blessing came into play involving religion.

I’ve done this so there will be no disagreement in how someone may view gratitude. There are two applications and one assumption that the word is often applied to. Let’s first look at the most mundane and the most tangible. This will set our framework.

IOU-2The first perspective seems to apply to an expected repayment of a shared, given advantage or preference applied by someone else to us. That is, if someone gives us something that might be needed or assists in a way that we either solicited, implied the need for or appeared to need or want in the eyes of the giver, there will be assumed debt on the part of the receiver that they believe must either be repaid or simply acknowledged in the form of thanks, praise, deference or gratitude. Remember, one of the definitions of gratitude is our disposal to repay a favor bestowed.

Scolding-1The second perspective is a little more involved in that it includes being trained by someone into regarding them as someone who is deserving of our attention and deference in all our dealings with them. That is, we should regard them in a way that we accept their indispensability in our lives and always show unconditional gratitude. This is obviously a form of emotional blackmail as our perceived punishment for not doing so or feeling obligated will be either loss of love, inclusion or some form of support from them. This may be the parent that responds to our undesirable behavior with. “After all I’ve done for you go off and…”

The similarity between both these perspectives is that they both include earthly recognizable poles or sides that must be accepted in relating to our obligation and their repayment. They both exist within the time constrained polar opposing physical world. The assumption is that there is to be recognition, attention and or repayment as our gratitude for all the interchanges that can be viewed as their personal sacrifice in the interest of our retaining their favor, or in the case of religion, a deity. The resulting punishment for not acknowledging their efforts or not being grateful is either some form of self-instilled guilt (constructed in childhood training) or an actual loss of favor, approval or assistance from them.

In light of the fact that no one does anything by virtue of only one motivation, a play for gratitude or repayment is often disguised as a “noble” deed on the part of the “giver” which will serve as a sacrifice in the eyes of their peers but must be perceived as an accepted obligation on the part of the receiver. A simple example would be our eating in a restaurant, over tipping, being socially perceived by our peer group as being overly generous while conditioning the future behavior of the waiter or waitress into feeling that they “owe” us deference in our future Tipping-1visits.This dynamic may either be conscious or below the threshold of a perpetrator. Accusation of their doing so may receive a staunch denial due to their lack of awareness and thorough childhood training received directly or through unconscious emulation.

When we apply these perspectives and divisive rapport to the way that we apply our essence to the world we become extremely destructive and cripple our abilities and accountability in being Fencing-1creative and effective in how we move through this mentally polarized world. We begin to see ourselves in an adversarial relationship with our essence through applying the polarizing principles of repayment, owing, obligation and sometimes subjugation by personifying the dynamics of the universe with the mentally polarized perspectives of give and take, have and not have, want and not want.This becomes the most blatant when we construct a deity personified with demands and expectations of us that we believe ourselves to be unequal to if not inadequate in accomplishing. This also becomes applicable but less obvious in metaphysics when we apply the same polarized personification to natural universe giving it the quality of judgment overus that demands that we be grateful to it for circumstances that we put into motion ourselves through our own actions and choices. This same dynamic is resonant with the psychological dynamic that we call our Shadow where we would apply admirable Shadowqualities to an external hero or idol instead of ourselves, keeping them at a distance from our own egoic persona and feeling petrified that if we actualized them within ourselves we would lose our perceived security in our present circumstances and known behaviors while having to actualize those characteristics within ourselves and finding ourselves in unknown and “out of control” egoic territory. We have to understand that the mind is extremely clever in creating its own logic in separating us from parts of ourselves that might sabotage our preferred and perceivably secure image of ourselves. We simply bury the qualities in our unconscious or apply them to a deity or the universe around us.

in-utero-babyTo understand this dynamic a little better, please consider that before we were born we were in a state where there was no need for food, warmth, shelter or nurturance. They were all intrinsic to the state of not being incarnate. This is our essence: all inclusive, whole, complete and without any need or requirement. To the simplistic mind we might call this Heaven, Nirvana, Paradise. Then a curious thing happens. We emerge into an environment where everything becomes divided. We experience the traumatic separation of birth. I say traumatic because it divides our world into previously unknown polarities; warm versus cold, loud versus quiet, sated versus hungry, bright versus dark, nurtured versus lonely. We translate this division into pain and pleasure. To distinguish between these two states, the mind is born in tandem with our physical birth giving us the capacity to register this division in the forms of thought and language in order to describe and manage ourselves in the new environment. Our mentally polarized mind rapidly develops overshadowing the remembrance of our previous unity and essence rapidly burying it in an avalanche of divisive and separative mental assessments. We now have the foundation for our polarized rapport with our world. Now, in the same way that if we only have a hammer we see everything as a nail, our mind sees the world in terms of division and separation as that is the dynamic that the mind was formed in and only has the capacity to operate within. So, let’s now move back to our concept of gratitude.

So, when we say we are grateful to someone, we can easily understand the dynamic because we understand and accept our separation from the person that we are grateful to. But when we say we feel gratitude or are grateful to a deity or the universe for our circumstances, what are we actually doing by saying so? We are creating a separation and dividing ourselves off from our own ability and accountability in creating our own circumstances. We are creating a metaphysical Shadow where there was none before. We are, literally and perceptually, separating ourselves from our own essence.

yoda-1As many of the enlightened souls of the world have attempted, mostly in vain, to teach us that we are never separated from our essence, the mind of the common man is virtually incompetent in making the connection to his essence without seeing it through the separation inherent in an adversarial format. So we have become so ingrained and mentally accustomed to being of the world that we can no longer see that our essence is actually in the world but not of it. Showing gratitude to a deity or the universe is actually enforcing our separation from them.

As adults and relating to our childhood, it’s easy for us to see and understand the need for the authority, the guidance and how our acceptance of our parents as an external director is Training wheelsnecessary for the assurance of our safety and tutelage into becoming accountable adults. We can even see the continuation and sometimes even the necessity of transferring that stewardship to an external deity or discipline…temporarily. But there comes a time in our lives where we must accept the responsibility for our own creations and choices by acknowledging the essence within us that is constantly steering us toward our own pre-birth unity, through feeling and intuition, that still exists within us and was buried after our birth under a mountain of mental constructs.

Being gratuitous to our earthly brothers and sisters is understandable and even acceptable in the context of our physically polarized and worldly lives. But when we conceive of the universe and our essence, gratitude and gratefulness are not the rapports that activate our essence but Brotherhood-1rather divides and fractures the unity to which we all have access. To rest into our essence, simply be aware and in the moment. There’s nothing and no one to be thankful for or grateful to. Life simply is. Our essence is eternal. It’s always “there.” So are we. We are all creators. It’s time that we acknowledge that and accept the responsibility for our creations, not pass them off to making a universe or deity responsible for them. We must acknowledge our own power. Don’t defer. We are all gods in the making.

self-help booksAn unbelievable amount of time, effort and energy has gone under the bridge in the name of self-improvement. It has become almost synonymous with other headings such as self-help, personal growth, personal empowerment and a host of other labels alluding toward the accomplishment of increasing our influence and effectiveness upon our world. But the questions arises, “What are we improving” and “Whom are we improving for?” Ourselves? Others? An ideal? What is the objective? What is this thing we call self-improvement and why do we pursue it?

We all strive, at the least most of us, to be “better” people. But what does that mean? And in whose eyes will we be “better?” For each of us who invest in the process our reasons will vary tremendously but our bottom line goal will be the same; to feel wanted, needed and loved by Love & Approvalthe world. The feeling that we are not is a primary urge resting in the core of our self-perception. Whether we admit this to ourselves or not is the most important factor in determining how we will approach the process. Since personal growth and personal empowerment are most often seen as self-improvement, our process will fall under one of two labels; either self-improvement or self-help.

In self-help there is a belief within us that we are somehow lacking whatever it takes to put us into a position in life that we feel will make us happy. Whether it is developing skills for work and career or characteristics that we believe are responsible for attracting the most desirable relationships, it is still viewed as a void that needs to be filled. What is ironic is that according to the law of attraction it is our belief in what it is that we are lacking that focuses our energy and attention toward manifesting more of the same perceived lack. In other words, what we believe about ourselves will continue to manifest until we change our belief or like begets like. This even resonates with the bible that says what a man thinketh, so he is. So then, does self-help make things worse? It does only if we start by believing that something is lacking. If that’s what we’re then faced with in self-help, what can we do?

A less “self-fulfilling prophecy” would be self-improvement. It starts from a position of believing that who and what we are is enough. Nothing is lacking. It’s just that now we want more of what we can be, do or have. The focus switches from a feeling of lack to a feeling of wanting more to feel happier. You may now say, “Doesn’t wanting to be happier come from a lack in itself?” I’d say yes, but the want is much more general in its focus. Focusing directly on the lack of a skill or characteristic is specific and augments our energy in a way that focuses and accelerates the perceived lack specifically emphasizing its manifestation. Focusing on being happy is more general and diffuses the energy leaving our field of concentration and endeavor more open to its satisfaction from more than one specific focus, namely, the skill or characteristic. It leaves pot-gold-2our fulfillment open to the “universal manager” which certainly brings us what we want, but most often, from avenues that we least expect. The dynamic then bypasses our mind lock and specificity which are then minimized or moved “out of the way” of more preferable yet unexpected benefits manifesting from avenues which we hadn’t considered. So, based on the Law of Attraction, focusing more on what we want rather than what we lack is the better way to go.

So, self-improvement is more preferable over self-help. Yet, with our perceived lack in a much more defused and expanded focus, it is still aimed at increasing something which we feel is an elusive and indescribable lack. But, what is it that will make us happier? Even with self-improvement, we’re right back to wanting to feel wanted, needed and loved. Granted a lack but a lot less focused and a lot less likely to create our own resistance through specific “pointing” of our energy and attention.

garden-of-eden-22In becoming self-improved we believe that if we do more, have more and are more what we want will materialize. But, where did we get this belief from? In whose eyes do we believe that this is true? Others. The people we know, love and admire. The people who we believe are happy. The people we believe that are outside our reach, outside of our world and, essentially, disconnected from us. We want to belong. We want to be accepted. We want to be reunited with what we believe is our source, that place where there was no separation before we were born into this polarized separated world. This is the place in the bible referred to as the Garden of Eden. This is the ancient memory of our all being one: a union of feeling in the empathic ocean. But I digress.

So, what are the hazards? There is only one. It is believing that being wanted, needed and loved by someone or something outside of ourselves will make us happy. We’re still playing the “tapes” that originally taught us to believe that all that is important and that all that will answer our need to be wanted, accepted and loved comes from our parents. While this may have been so when we were helpless infants we’ve since then buried the recognition of this attention and urge from this non-verbal time deep into the unconscious as our thinking mind became the overlay determining how we discriminate what we seek. Then we continued the outward attention by simply transferring the expectation to others who remind us of family members. The fact that we were trained to look outside of ourselves during a non-verbal time accounts for most of the difficulty we have in believing that we create our own circumstances through how and where we focus our energy.

donkey-&-carrot-2When we focus on others to fulfill what we believe will make us happy we also subject ourselves to their unpredictable changing of like, loves and dislikes who, even in the best of times, have difficulty keeping their preferences focused and consistent. As they change their preferences we end up feeling like we’re chasing our tail. Many time we don’t even realize that they’ve done so. Happiness provided by them then becomes totally elusive and frustrating.

So, what is the answer? For most people it is an extremely difficult one to put into action. We must first learn to become accountable for and accept the decisions that put us in positions that we feel are undesirable and, second, we have to come to realize and accept that our happiness rests in using our energy in a way that makes us feel good NOT panders to the whims Alone time-1and approvals of those whom we believe hold the key to our contentment and security. Since we live in such a materially oriented world, this is an extremely difficult pill for many to swallow.

So, what’s the primary hazard of self-improvement? Believing that what we need comes from outside our own heart. What can we do? We can all start by creating and relishing more quiet and alone time and learning to enjoy our own company without outside stimulation. Can you do it?